The End of Eddy is a heartfelt, autobiographical play based on the book En Finir avec Eddy Bellegueule by Édouard Louis, in which the author shares experiences of his difficult youth growing up in a working class family in a village in Northern France and his struggle coming to terms with his sexuality. This piece is brought to us by Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects and the story of Eddy is skilfully told by two talented young actors Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills.
A raw and tender coming of age play that unlocks a number of important issues.
The play feels like a Sparknotes re-enactment of the book with Mills and Austin breaking down and analysing the story at different intervals. It is pitched to a teenage audience and as I was sat amongst a group of high school students with their teacher, I can confirm the play was very accessible and relatable for this age group. The staging is simple but effective with four television screens in the foreground and a bus stop in the background cleverly sign-posted to track Eddy’s journey from Abbeville to Hallencourt to Amiens. The television screens serve a number of purposes; they voice different characters and are height adjustable and act as an audio visual narrative throughout.
Violence, poverty, shame and pride are the key themes in this piece and Austin and Mills share Eddy’s story with compassion and sensitivity. From dealing with bullies at school, to being shamed by his father and brother for not being a ‘real’ man, to re-enacting porn scenes with his cousin, to collecting store credit on behalf of his family, the two actors bring these scenes to life. Shame comes in many forms for Eddy, shame over his own sexuality and desires, shame from feeling alienated from his peers for being different and shame over the poverty he has been brought up in.
Class and social mobility are also themes in this play and thankfully Édouard Louis’s story continues onto a happier chapter. This is a raw and tender coming of age play that unlocks a number of important issues and has the ability to touch and move audience members of every age, class and gender.